The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Viktor's Garage
Europa Richard Foster , April 8th, 2015 07:58

A "small label" in Denmark puts out a record by a Danish band who, through an array of "improvisations" (hmmm) and "sonic experiments" (gulp) "pay homage" to stuff like Can, Neu!, and Palais Schaumburg (yikes). The lyrics are in German, too. Actually, using German lyrics to express matters is an old and well-worn trope; Dutch Ultra bands like Minioon and Plus Instruments did similar over 30 years ago. Regardless of historical provenances, that sort of description means 'Europa', the new record by Viktor's Garage, is either going to be sound as, or yet another inconsequential fumble in the dark with rock's past.

But Danish bands have released some trippy music over recent years, as anyone who owns Band Ane or Family Underground records will testify. Europa is a pleasingly bonkers effort too; and a surprisingly accessible listen. Weirdly enough, the aforementioned Ultra connection is very, very noticeable; there's more of a musical relationship with great lost Dutch-German bands like Suspect or Schlaflose Nächte. Or, for that matter, their modern day equivalents like Tilburg's brilliant cabaret punks, Beton Fraktion. The playful opener 'Der Vogel' could very well be a sound blasting out of Amsterdam's Oktopus club in 1980.

One massive advantage this record has is its brevity. Even when (as on 'Muzik Klingt', or 'Fleisch Und Wein') matters sound like someone giving a cooking lesson after a massive ingestion of blotter acid, it still keeps a thread. The bizarre '9/11' does seem to fall into the skip marked "daft arty noise", and has a fair bit of difficulty climbing out again, but somehow it does. There is a steely determination to "succeed!", to "express!" throughout.

As to the "homage" stuff. If any Kraut-reference has to be given, we should say that Europa looks to channel the spirit of Faust, if Faust were reborn as a bunch of 12 year old anarchists in a school recorder orchestra, or Faust as a bunch of wired-up short order chefs. There's a lot of banging and rattling. Maybe 'Tierpark', with its processed burping, could have had something to do with 'Soup', by Can, but perhaps that's a reviewer's afterthought. Sometimes the band take their music into their own hands and create very, very pleasing introspective sounds. The pop of 'Wasser Und Bein', and the droney meditation of 'Yoga' are great, because they seem to kick out all the affectations and concentrate on themselves.

So there you have it. A record that's trying it's best to be difficult and "out there", but ends up sounding pretty playful in a gawky, bumbling way. In fact,Europa hankers after your attention like some rough old dog who wants to play with you. And as such, you the listener have to make the effort and play your role one more time, but it's not half as bad or as unenjoyable as you thought it would be. In fact it's rather fun.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.